Knockmore’s Connell Dempsey (right) and team-mate Sean Ruttledge celebrate at the final whistle of the Mayo SFC semi-final against Ballina Stephenites at Elverys MacHale Park. PHOTO: BRENDAN MORAN/SPORTSFILE.

Two fantastic finals in store for us all


I'm glad I am not a betting man. Well, at least most of time!

Only one of my picks from the senior and intermediate semi-finals came off. A big thank you to Balla on that one (more on them later). But I can at least take some degree of comfort in that not many – if anyone at all - got all of them predictions correct.

It just goes to show that this has been one of the most unpredictable Mayo club championships we have seen in quite some time. In the senior grade over the past decade, it wouldn't have taken a fortune teller to predict either one of Ballintubber and Castlebar Mitchels would have had their hands on the trophy come the end of the senior club championships.

But with the former exiting at the quarter-final stages this year and the latter not even getting out of their group, it has opened the door for a very novel pairing in this year's final.

For Breaffy, you would have to feel that this is last chance saloon territory. I was at other games on Saturday but by all accounts, Breaffy were full value for their victory.

I had my concerns from a defensive standpoint given how easily Ballaghaderreen cut them open a week beforehand, but from top to bottom, Breaffy delivered a hugely impressive all-round team display. Joint managers Peter Ford and Shane Conway will be glad to see two weeks preparation time for recovery after Breaffy have had some physical encounters in this year's championship to date. If they can produce something to that level again, we might just have a brand new name on the Moclair Cup.

But standing in their way is a very impressive Knockmore outfit, in what will be their first appearance in a final since 2016 (a drubbing at the hands of Mitchels). The north Mayo side haven't been in this position too often in recent years since their peak in the 1990s. But they look hungry and driven to end a very long wait and were very impressive in dispatching off a very good Ballina Stephenites team. They will certainly be able to match Breaffy in the physical stakes and with the likes of Alan Stadler, Aiden Orme and Kevin McLoughlin all in flying form, we will be in for one hell of a final.

Just don't ask for a prediction!


From one novel pairing to another, the meeting of Balla and Kiltimagh in this year's intermediate final has all the ingredients of a classic.

It has been one hell of a rise for Balla. A junior team just over two years, they now stand one win away from competing with the very best Mayo club football has to offer. With the success Balla have had in recent years at underage level also, you do get the feeling they could be dining at the top table for a long time to come. Not too sure about their Armagh-like orange change strip, but that's another story.

Yet it didn't look that way for long periods during their semi-final with Ballinrobe. Trailing by five points going into the final quarter, it needed something special from Balla if they were to progress. But a magical final 15 minutes where they scored more in that period than they did in the whole match until then, including a terrific goal by Gary McHale, saw them advance although they will have a huge challenge in front of them.

Many will feel now it is Kiltimagh's time to make the step. They have always been there or thereabouts for intermediate but for one reason or another, it hasn't happened. They were full value for their win over a Hollymount/Carramore side who many had tipped (myself included) to bounce back up to senior at the first time of asking after an impressive campaign to date.

But once Kiltimagh got ahead, not even the likes of Darren Coen, Conor Heneghan and Kevin Feeroick for Hollymount/Carramore were able to reel them in

It's a very solid Kiltimagh team from one through 15 and their meeting with Balla on Saturday week promises to be a great contest.

I also have to mention the relegation playoff final I was at between Isalndeady and Swinford which featured the most dramatic end to any game in the championship this year.

Swinford were five points down with a minute of injury time remaining and it would have been safe to assume that Islandeady were. But Swinford used the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card as two goals from their last two plays ensured the east Mayo men would remain in the intermediate ranks next year. Incredible/

*You can read Stuart's full column every Tuesday in our print edition.

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